9 Mar 2009, 12:15am
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Final WI ELF members are sentenced

Justice system works, says research facility director

Sarah Juon , Editor, NewsoftheNorth.Net, March 7, 2009 [here]

When the sentence was handed down last month for the final two Earth Liberation Front members who committed sabotage on the U.S. Forest Service research facility [Forestry Sciences Laboratory] in Rhinelander in 2000, a collective sigh of relief went up.

Eric Gustafson, a biologist and the new director of the Institute for Applied Ecosystem Studies at the forest research lab, said the nine-year wait for closure was satisfying. “It may not seem like a big deal after all this time, but we were grateful for the perseverance of the FBI and other law enforcement groups that helped. It shows the justice system works.” …

Gustafson said the Earth Liberation Front attack was based on a false idea about what the research facility is doing. “They thought we were doing lab work with the poplars – genetic engineering. These are strictly hybrids of aspen and cottonwood, bred for rapid growth.”

The sentenced defendants were Bryan Lefay (formerly Bryan Rivera), 27, of Olympia, Wash., and Katherine Christianson, 27, of Sante Fe, N.M. Lefay was given three years in prison by Chief U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb for his role in the attack of willful injury to property belonging to the government. Christianson was sentenced to two years in prison for the same offense.

Crabb set the amount of loss for the Rhinelander attack at $424,361, which she said was an extremely conservative estimate. She ordered restitution in the same amount.

The charges against the defendants were the result of an investigation conducted by Oneida County Sheriff’s Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Forest Service. The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith P. Duchemin.

Three other individuals have already been sentenced:

Ian Wallace, 27, originally of Eau Claire, Wis., has recently pleaded guilty in the Western District of Michigan for his role in the 2001 attempted firebombing by the Earth Liberation Front of a U.S. Forest Service facility on the campus of Michigan Tech University, and is currently awaiting sentencing.

Daniel McGowan, 34, New York, pleaded guilty in 2006 in the District of Oregon to his role in a conspiracy that resulted in numerous arsons committed in the name of the Earth Liberation Front. One of the fires resulted in $12 million in damage to a ski resort in Colorado. McGowan was sentenced to seven years in federal prison in 2007.

Aaron Ellringer, 35, Eau Claire, was permitted to plead guilty to a misdemeanor given his limited role in this offense, and sentenced to four days in jail by U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Crocker on December 30, 2008. … [more]

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